Tuesday, April 11, 2017

There’s a brew going down at The Lakes

Part of the Cumbrian food and taste experience, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, is The Lakes Distillery. Interestingly, The Lakes District was once part of Scotland - hence a long association with illicit whiskey distilling! Founder of The Lakes Distillery is Paul Currie who co-founded the widely acclaimed, award winning Arran distillery, and a man who has grown up in and amongst the distilling industry.

After years of searching for the perfect venue, Paul came across some derelict farm buildings from the 1850s near Keswick, and in 2010 his dream started to turn into a reality. Against all odds, this Victorian farm has developed into a world class whisky distillery and visitor centre, with over 100,000 people visiting the facilities each year.

The Lakes Distillery now legally produces whiskey, vodka and the Lakes Gin (it’s best appreciated neat) and keeps waste to a minimum: it recycles water and heat and uses only grain, yeast and water in its process.

The goal is to produce a collection of world class spirits, and is on its way having being names by Timeout as “one of the best new distilleries in the world.” When asked in an interview how a new distillery can win the battle against fierce competition, Paul emphasized that there is nothing more important than quality. “The beautiful surroundings gave us a geographical advantage, helped us to build our brand. But the critical value of our business is always to enhance the quality to the best. Our goal is to make spirits that everyone enjoys, and become a leading brand to spirits fans.”

Cheers to that.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Why are the All Blacks so Good?

I’ve written for NZ Rugby World every month since issue number one, 20 years ago in April 1997 – and I was thumbing through the archives this sunny Saturday morning in Auckland when my copy of the latest, special edition was delivered.

Gregor Paul, editor of the world’s favourite rugby magazine, just published a special edition celebrating 125 years of New Zealand Rugby. He focused on why the All Blacks are so good.

Here in summary are 15 values which help explain the AB’s continuous improvement and sustainable peak performance.

1. Sacrifice
  • Give up things that won’t help you reach the summit.
  • Proves that the goal is worth chasing.
2. Respect
  • The legacy, the team, and the role of every individual.
  • Leave it better than when you found it.
3. Gratitude
  • Pressure is a privilege. Be grateful to have the opportunity to experience it.
4. Acceptance
  • Handle disappointment, man up, and do your job bloody well, whatever it is – for the Team.
5. Speed
  • In the mind. A positive attitude. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.
6. Trust
  • Believe in yourself, your skills, your game-plan, your systems and your mates.
7. Mental Toughness
  • Learn and practice TCUP.
8. Awareness
  • Uphold the higher standards. All the time.
9. Open Mindedness
  • Flexible thinking, responsive to new ideas, relish change.
10. Accountability
  • Everything can be done better. Use examples of the best players making mistakes. Everyone is accountable for the Team’s performance.
11. Dedication
  • Master basic skills.
  • Meet. Beat. Repeat.
12. Leadership
  • Everyone is a leader.
  • First know thyself.
  • Know what you’re doing, why, when and where.
13. Honesty
  • With yourself and your team.
  • Review performance shortfalls brutally and directly.
14. Core Role
  • Do your own job. Trust your mates to do theirs.
15. Continuous Improvement
  • Wake up the next morning and figure out how to improve.
  • Repeat daily.
Let’s see how these stand up to the latest threat – the British and Irish Lions in eight weeks time. Don’t miss the greatest sporting challenge of 2017.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Lion has Passed


At 6.30am on a wintry, cold 1989 Toronto morning, two partners of Egon Zehnder knocked on my door. They had been sent by Douglas Myers to find an operator to run the newly merged Lion Nathan NZ conglomerate of beer, soft drinks, supermarkets, hotels, wines and spirits. A few months later I had packed up and left Pepsi Cola Canada to move to the other end of the world to work for the most charismatic, paradoxical, irresistible, revolutionary I would ever meet. A great man. A great New Zealander.

He taught me about daring to dream, about the complexities of people, about driving performance, about winning, and about being a new New Zealander.

I loved him, respected him, admired him, trusted him and was driven by him to Learn, Fail and Fix.

He was caring and demanding in equal parts. He was provocative, brave, controversial, passionate and independent.

A pirate amongst sailors.

He passed today. 78 years young.

A New Zealand Lion.

Sir Douglas Myers. R.I.P.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I Love Laura

Laura Kimpton is a California-based, American contemporary artist. She is known for her Monumental Word series including installations at Burning Man and now on the rooftop of the James Hotel near my New York home in Tribeca. “LOVE” is right in my wheelhouse. Other words in the series include “BELIEVE”, “LIVE”, “MAGIC” and “DREAM.” Kimpton reportedly liked the juxtaposition of LOVE seen together with the Freedom Tower in an outside location and has said that she sees herself as the messenger of love in a time when there is so much hate in the world. Her website states that “her creativity stems from a desire to question traditional views on social interaction, therefore invoking through her art a reaction from her viewers that ultimately completes her projects. She is continually exploring new mediums in her search for revelatory communication.”

Two more connections I like about Kimpton’s installations. First comes from LA-based New Zealand art critic and journalist Lita Barrie in a Huffington Post essay on the ‘LOVE’ installation at Las Vegas’s Venetian Hotel:

“Hotel art” has a pejorative reputation in the serious art world, considered facile, derivative, and inoffensive decoration bought through commercial art consultants and hyped by PR agencies who are unfamiliar with art history or the aesthetic or philosophic significance of real art collected and curated by scholars for top tier museums and art collectors. But a few hotels have managed to transition beyond this line and acquire serious art to share it with the public.

“Kimpton is fascinating because, as an outsider artist, she refuses to be put in a box or to pander to commercial galleries, or what she calls “an art world run by left-brain people, running a right-brain world.” Her use of sparrows in LOVE came from living in Siena, where sparrows flock in great numbers, and this led to her realization that “you are free to love anything you want - especially yourself.” The word “love” takes on multiple meanings through Kimpton’s use of the cut-out birds, so that “love” is not restricted to just monogamous romantic love, but represents a flight of fantasy into a more universal feeling. Like Alice she riddles the meanings of words, on the “other side” of left brain logic. Although I was apprehensive about viewing “hotel art,” I came away from this experience uplifted. After talking with Kimpton in-depth, I had no doubt that she is an authentic artist.”

And here is the third connection, hotels, of which I know more than a bit as a global resident and consultant:

“Kimpton’s journey began as an insider within the hospitality industry as the daughter of a hotelier, Bill Kimpton, who made his name refurbishing run-down buildings in urban areas and collaborating with innovative chefs like Wolfgang Puck to create exciting hotel restaurants. While Kimpton understands this industry implicitly, thanks to her innovative father, she also comes from a strong art and psychology background, having earned both a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and an MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Kimpton has worked on the periphery, yet she has also been accepted by the art establishment that collects her work.”

Laura Kimpton’s work is being shown by HG Contemporary on West 23rd Street, New York, starting on May 4th, 2017.

Two thumbs up.

Photo by Peter Ruprecht

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

CricHQ shortlisted for UK Sports Tech Award

CricHQ is the world’s leading data company, with the goal of becoming the world’s leading cricket broadcaster. They have been shortlisted as Best-Integrated Digital Media at the world’s leading sports technology awards, to be announced in London in early May. Over 70 sports from 30 countries were represented from 30 countries.

I took on the role of Chair of CricHQ at the end of 2016, working with founder/CEO Simon Baker and the team to scale the company within the framework of the world’s second largest sport (football being #1). CricHQ currently scores one in every 10 balls played at all levels of organized cricket around the world, including 54 out of 106 national governing bodies, 350 associations, and thousands of leagues, tournaments, clubs and schools.

CricHQ is an exemplar of New Zealand companies winning the world from the edge. Founded and headquartered in Wellington, CricHQ has operations in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States. In February it announced the acquisition of My Action Replay, a Bristol UK company that has perfected low-cost video capture of cricket matches at a very local level – school and club – meaning you can select you son or daughter’s fours and wickets at the press of a mouse.

Cricket is an engrossing, vibrantly exciting game, with enough pauses for reflection on the meaning of life. Until CricHQ, the game was decidedly analog, recorded on paper and consigned to filing boxes. CricHQ’s data and video tools are building a new world for players, fans, parents, administrators, coaches – and importantly, talent spotters. Take India, the world’s second most populated country where cricket is the national passion – spotting talent in all its corners will become possible with CricHQ when it is embraced throughout the country. CricHQ is becoming the lifetime home for players in a statistically-driven game.

See video interview here about my dreams for CricHQ.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Making Happy Choices

Am in Porto, the great river city of Portugal, with two great companies – Sonae, speaking to their 100 top leaders, and Sogrape, the country's leading winemaker, working with their marketing teams on four creative projects.

We’re staying on the River Douro at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo, built in the 18th century by the famous architect Nasoni – beautiful.

A couple of thoughts from our sessions by Rui Patriarca, Sogrape Marketing Director.

You only live once? (YOLO)

False.

You live every day.

You only die once.

Even when happiness forgets about you sometimes, do not forget about happiness.

Making Happy Choices.

Thoughts from a country where Destiny is at the core of its spirit.